Former Dungeons and Dragons executive producer Ray Winninger has tweeted out a list of common mistakes that show up in DnD books and adventures, and they read like a list of video game glitches.
For instance, if you’re designing a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, you’ll want to pay careful attention to the sizes of the DnD monsters you’re using. “Double check that all creatures physically fit in the rooms they are supposed to occupy,” Winninger says.
He notes that you should particularly take care when including entranceways. “If all the doors and passageways are 10” wide, huge creatures cannot enter or exit”. We would assume that the creature smashes through the passageway with their immense strength, but the point is: In DnD, size matters.
DnD maps are another common bugbear for Winninger. He says editors should not only take care that maps have been keyed correctly, but also that everything joins up. “Designers sometimes forget to place a door or a stairway. Labyrinthine dungeon maps sometimes inadvertently feature corridors that are impossible to enter,” he tweets.
Communication is also key, or rather DnD languages. The ex DnD boss points out designers shouldn’t rely on communication with creatures if they haven’t checked the monster manual to see that the beasties speak Common. No good expecting the lizardfolk to tell your players the shortcut through the swamp if they can only communicate in Draconic.
There’s some more generic DnD advice too, like the problem of burying important information too low in a description: “don’t pass boxed text that describes a room’s ‘elaborate friezes’ and ‘musty odors’ in detail but neglects to mention that Orcus, the Demon Prince of Undeath, is seated on a carpet of living flesh in the middle of the room,” Winninger explains.
Ray Winninger is a tabletop RPG writer and game designer who was D&D’s executive producer from 2020 – 2022.
Hopefully your next DnD one shot or DnD campaign won’t have any of the common errors he’s pointed out. If you’re after game inspiration for your next masterclass DnD book, you might also want to swot up on these DnD settings.